Simon Horrell’s resume reads of a true professional in the area of childcare and therapy. The BabyGym boss has under her professional belt, Diplomas in Massage Therapy, Early Childhood Development Pre-school Phase and Physical Therapy. And she is making them work.She establish the gym in quest to minimise frustration and helplessness among babies and young children as a result of the scarcity of privately-funded institutions offering specialised emotional and physical child development.
Horrell gets ZEPH KAJEVU, to understand her passion and her aim in the next five years is to open fully-fledged centres in the main centres and towns.
How long has BabyGym® been in existence?
BabyGym® was established in Botswana in October 2009. The programme was, however, launched in South Africa in 2006 by Dr. Melodie De Jager.

What was the motivation behind establishing it here?
Prior to opening up BabyGym® in Gaborone, I was operating BabyGym® in Dublin, Ireland. After numerous visits to Gaborone, I realised that there were no developmental programmes available for parents and children to attend together. So many parents, especially first time parents do not know what to do in order to stimulate basic reflexes to enhance physiological, neurological and emotional development in their babies, and as a result become frustrated and feel helpless.
BabyGym® not only gives parents something beneficial to do with their babies, but also allows them to meet other parents who are in the same position.

How do you ensure parents get to know about this facility?
I have information flyers in paediatrician’s rooms, as well as posters placed in numerous venues throughout Gaborone. I also write monthly articles for a local newspaper which generates interest, and of course, there is the best form of referral which is word of mouth.

Do you feel that the average family can afford to send their children to BabyGym®?
Yes, BabyGym® is an affordable course at P550 for a five-week programme. Considering the positive impact it will have on a child, it is a very small fee considering what may have to be spent later should any developmental delays or learning difficulties occur.

What is your target age group?

BabyGym® Firm Foundations classes are aimed at ages from birth to 18 months. Children with severe developmental delays of ages up to five years of age are also welcome and are seen on a ‘1-on-1’ basis.

Tell us what goes on in these classes?

Every week, we work through different developmental milestones, different senses and different primitive reflexes. It is great fun, and there is always a lot structured interaction and laughter, and of course, there is a huge amount that the parents learn!

What sets your programme apart from the adult prototypes?
BabyGym® is set in a safe and secure environment with the movements and exercises specifically designed to be safe for babies and children. There is no need for parents to buy expensive equipment, and we demonstrate how normal household things may be used to stimulate your child’s development.

What are some of the causes of the health problems?
There are so many causes of health problems in children, – physiological, neurological or emotional, and unfortunately there is not a miracle cure for all. There are, however, certain issues and problems which may be prevented and vastly improved by doing BabyGym.

What health problems affecting children can you provide solutions for?
The approaches and exercises used in BabyGym® may help alleviate learning difficulties, hyper/hypo-activity, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
(ADHD involve learning disabilities caused by processing problems in parts of the brain that handle auditory and visual information, what they hear, think, see or picture. The learning disability is the symptom, while the processing problem is the cause.)
We can also dramatically improve the quality of life for children with Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and stroke victims of any age.

Do you have facilities for children with special physical or mental disabilities?
Absolutely, Yes, BabyGym® facilitates any baby from any walk of life.

Do you accept referrals?
Absolutely – many people still don’t know that BabyGym® is in Gaborone, so sometimes a referral is the first time that they hear about us.
Do you experience limitations in your programmes as a result of culture or religion?
No not at all. BabyGym® is non-invasive and non-offensive in every way. If I ever feel that any part of the programme may be offensive to any of my parents, I discuss it with them and facilitate their requirements.

How many children have benefited from your services?
Thousands of children have benefited in some way, shape or form, from BabyGym®. Parents are trained during sessions to allow them to continue working with their children at home. Most parents notice changes in their baby within the first two to three weeks, and as the programme is designed to deliver long term benefits, they will continue to notice wonderful changes in their children throughout their prime developmental years.

What excitements do you envisage in the immediate and long term?
BabyGym® is growing at a rapid rate, which has been a fantastic achievement in such a short space of time. Due to growing demand, I have just launched a follow on group for toddlers from 18 months to 4 years called CleverBabes, which starts this coming week, and focuses on the development of fine and gross motor skills.

What are your future plans?
Within five years, I aim to have BabyGym® spread across the whole of Botswana with a number of different BabyGym® instructors in the main centres and towns.

Name: Simone Horrell
Designation: Business Owner and Child Development Consultant
Marital status: Married
Role model: Dr Melodie de Jager
Favourite pass time: Reading and Photography
Food that makes you drool: Seafood especially Prawns!
Favourite restaurant: I very seldom go out for dinner but 2 favourite venues for a quiet and relaxing coffee would have to be Dijo in Kgale View and the Tea Garden at Sanitas!
Car driving: Honda CRV
Holiday destination: China has been my most memorable trip thus far and I can’t wait to see the Pyramids in Egypt!